What is a “yoke”? “A scant
quarter”? or a “serged edge”?
Maybe you can remember sitting in a group
of people and wondering what language they were
talking. It sure did not seam like English, but it did
not sound much like any other language either. There are
many fields of endeavor, hobbies, and interest with their own
Over the years, the language of sewing has
become a bit easier, but every once in a while somebody says
something that just leaves me bewildered. If you
are new to sewing or quilting, you probably understand.
Sewing definitions are vital to the sewer or quilter.
There is a whole vocabulary that is used by
people who enjoy sewing and quilting. Sometimes it takes
years to learn all the ins and outs of this language.
While the words themselves sometimes sound familiar, they often
have very specific meanings only understood by avid
sewers. It is important to have the right sewing
definitions to understand what is going on.
When you hear the word “Yoke”, you might
think the person is from Texas as I am, and is not properly
pronouncing the word “joke”. You might even think you are
suppose to laugh when you hear the word, but it is no joking
matter. To an avid seamstress the word yoke is as
commonplace as a shirt or dress. Indeed, yoke means the
part of a garment running horizontally across it. It
includes panels such as garment pieces covering shoulder,
waist, midriff, or back.
If you heard a couple of older ladies
talking about how important it is to use a “scant quarter”, you
might imagine they were quite fugal, penny pinching,
maybe even skinflints. If you overheard one of them
say something like, “without a scant quarter foot, you just
can’t make good seam allowances”, you might feel a bit
dizzy. To the avid quilter, however, it all makes perfect
sense. A “scant quarter” has nothing to do with money,
how absurd. Any quilter knows that you can use a special
sewing machine presser foot called a scant quarter to give you
a perfect quarter inch seam allowance when piecing quilt blocks
together. Oops, I apologize, if this still seams strange
to you, maybe you need to follow my mother’s old
adage: “If you really want to know look it up in
Years ago, when I first heard a salesman use
the word “serged edge”, it made no sense to me. Later, I
asked an experienced seamstress what the salesman was talking
about. She explained that this was simply a way to
overcast the edge of a fabric so that it would not ravel under
use. Since then, I have learned quite a bit more about
different kinds of serged edges and how to make them on a
serger as well as a sewing machine, but the learning process
can be a challenge.
This is where My Sewing Dictionary comes
in. Over the years, I started collecting words that were
special to sewing and quilting. It is amazing how many
different sewing terms and quilting terms there really
are. As I collected these terms, I would ask people to
define them for me. I would look them up in regular
dictionaries, and try to put them into my own simplified
words. Eventually, I collected over 3,000 words that form
what I call the sewing language. There are likely a bunch
more too. Sewing terminology includes many words that are
used exclusively in sewing or quilting, and many words that
have special meanings in sewing.
There are many fields of endeavor, hobbies,
and interests with their own special words, find out what
these words mean from experts in the field. It will give
you confidence and satisfaction. .If you want to master
the language of sewing and quilting, you might start your own
word collection. Ask your sewing teacher for help or look
up the words in a specialized dictionary instead of trying to
figure them out from the maze in an ordinary dictionary.
There are many sewing glossaries available on the internet, and
there are a few specialized dictionaries available to help you
master the language of sewing. Check out the all new My
Sewing Dictionary and the My Sewing Dictionary Software for all
of our sewing definitions.